Forward Focus

I was in caucus with a plaintiff and his attorney who were intensely calculating alleged losses.  This was about 2 or 3 exchanges into the mediation.  It’s part of the sometimes cathartic experience of mediating – being able to finitely define and, thus, explain why someone chose to take the momentous step to sue.  In fact, mediating without such an evaluation has unique challenges, so I consider it reasonable and useful – until someone gets stuck there.

To head that off, it helps to understand where that valuation may have its place, and where it may not be helpful. 

Parties tend to get “unstuck” when I explain that mediation is really the opposite of litigation.  Litigation is all about the past – what happened, how the law applies to that past-tense circumstance, and what may have been lost.  On the other hand, mediation is about the present and immediate future.  And the tools used in each approach can be just as different.

By moving this party’s focus from over his shoulder to what was in front of him, he was able to begin assessing negotiable opportunities that could impact his (and his family’s) quality of life now;  move him forward.

In the end, the negotiation progressed and this party wound up achieving settlement along with a personally meaningful sense of closure.

About Maria Hanna Joseph

Maria Hanna Joseph is Principal of Joseph Mediation. Her 25 years of experience in employment law, include 16+ of work and mediating for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination which through which she has gained valuable insight into the MCAD, its practices and decision making. This, as well as her experience in plaintiff and defense litigation, with private and public sector clients, international and local business concerns, and in issues from harassment and discrimination, to noncompetition agreements, business operation, transgender workplace matters, retaliation and many others, lend her valuable perspective for understanding and mediating an array of legal and personal issues. In terms of volume, Maria has served more than 2,000 cases. Maria's practice has been honed with study of mediation at Harvard Law School's Program of Instruction for Lawyers, negotiation at Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation, and in the disciplines of Transformative Mediation and Family/Domestic Mediation, which are significant assets in managing the personal nature of employment disputes, and conflict in general. Attorneys and parties know Maria as candid, pragmatic and persevering in her commitment to help them achieve meaningful settlements while keeping sight of their most important interests. The insight and creativity afforded by her experience and training are realized in the resolutions that manifest. These qualities, along with her demeanor and the trust she engenders, have earned Maria a reputation for being able to manage highly tense and fraught situations and individuals, and settle a wide variety of disputes and tough cases.
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